Elite runners from Japan have entered the Vienna City Marathon for the first time in the history of the race. When the 23rd edition of Austria’s biggest running event will be started on 7th May 2006 Chieko Yamasaki and Tomo Morimoto will be among the big favourites for the women’s title. “Having two elite athletes from Japan running here means that we will be able to increase the international significance of our event”, race director Wolfgang Konrad said and added: “Additionally we are looking forward to a thrilling women’s race.” About 20,000 runners are expected to take part in the Vienna City Marathon on 7th May.
Both runners feature promising personal best times of sub 2:28. Chieko Yamasaki has clocked 2:27:22 with which she finished sixth in the high calibre Nagoya Marathon 2005. So far the 27 year-old has a half marathon best time of 71:30 minutes. But 22 year-old Tomo Morimoto could be even more promising. It was in January’s Osaka Marathon where she ran her debut at the distance and achieved a breakthrough into Japanese top class. Tomo Morimoto finished fifth in this race with 2:27:46. Her performance was rated so high by officials that she received the ,New Face Award’. Tomo Morimoto’s personal best at the half marathon stands at 72:17. But she had run that time back in 2004 when she was just 20.
In Japan elite runners are normally organised in companies. Chieko Yamasaki and Tomo Morimoto both belong to the Tenmaya team. Tenmaya is a department store in Japan, which even has a connection to Vienna: Tenmaya runs a Japanese restaurant in Austria’s capital. But their running team is even more successful internationally. One of the team members is Naoko Sakamoto who placed seventh in the Olympic marathon in 2004. Actually she had been in Vienna for her final preparations for Athens in August 2004. Now her training partners come to Vienna for racing. That could well mean that the Vienna City Marathon will see the best quality women’s race for years. However past women’s races in Vienna have been of high quality as well. The course record stands at 2:23:47 set by Italy’s Maura Viceconte in 2000.
Among others Chieko Yamasaki and Tomo Morimoto will face Susanne Pumper on 7th May. The 35 year-old Austrian will run her debut at the Vienna City Marathon. Last year she had won the half marathon, which is staged parallel to the Vienna City Marathon, in a national record of 73:20. Pumper had been third in the European Indoors in 2005 at 3,000 m.
Online registration for the 23rd Vienna City Marathon on 7th May 2006 is available at: www.vienna-marathon.com